Poetry at Sangam



LITANY by Abdourahman A. Waberi

(Translated from the French by Nancy Naomi Carlson.)

The eternal chant of the Word for its life
in the sky of the ages
I hear the wilds of childhood
memory’s wise calligraphies
imprinted in the split second’s spit
I also hear chains of words from a distant past
pieces of flesh
vocal carrion
following secret routes
of graveyards turned to dust
literality bares ancestral fears
that none can dispute
I hear the human voice of the wadi
where they replay the old rivalry
of narrator and writer who loses faith
I hear the hail of words like so many lianes
that drop from a sky without cage

the tree of knowledge has wings to surpass the horizon

to steal the verb
behind the back of the guard who caresses the patina of days

we’ll have to make room for the banished ‘p’ 
that slips back like a plaintive spouse
on tippytoes into her house